PM’s French Adventures in the Matrix

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Sarafina
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Sarafina » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:00 pm

That's a really good challenge. I really like it. I definitely need something like that for 2019.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Dec 27, 2018 11:25 pm

Sarafina wrote:That's a really good challenge. I really like it. I definitely need something like that for 2019.


Cool, okay, based on the overwhelming response (and I've given this like, what, half an hour)... okay, joking of course (not about the half an hour).... either way i've decided to post this as a new thread as there are only limited days left in the year.

Given it's very late in the game and some people may want to join later, I think the official start date should be 1st Jan 2019, but for those who come late to the party allow for an extension perhaps, which sees them finish later as well.

Now copying this post and the previous one to a new thread, please reply there.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:19 pm

No missed days yet on the 365 day challenge, so that’s going well. I haven’t even added in here my 2018 French totals... maybe another time.

So I’ve been reviving my Dutch, plodding along with French and beginning Arabic. It’s all enjoyable, but I’m beginning to experience feelings of regret. You see I’m only doing the minimum 30 minutes each day lately, and if any extra it’s only small as there’s too much going on around me.

We are out of our house and awaiting visa’s. We were meant to already be in Saudi by now, and to top it off the consulate has just up and moved from Melbourne to Sydney without warning and no communication is occurring at all between the consulate and the recruiting company so we’re in limbo currently.

I’m enjoying the little Arabic that I’m doing, and of course Dutch is always fun (especially in these early stages), but I feel my French is suffering. I’m not comfortable with this at all and I am wondering whether or not I drop everything again and just focus on French for the coming year (in Saudi) and really genuinely push myself to break through this stagnant stage. I was labelling myself C1 at one point, but I have my doubts now. I’m definitely a B2, but how far beyond B2 is debatable. That doesn’t overly matter, but I just don’t like that i’m not advancing currently.

French only or not? That is the question.... The elusive C levels feel like they will remain elusive forever if I begin introducing other languages (which I have). Yet not studying other languages it’s potnetially shutting me (and my children) off from learning other languages other than French. Predicament. This is like the opposite of wanderlust, I have devotion lust, or commitment yearnings.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby Skynet » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:10 pm

It's great to hear from you, PM!

I am delighted to see that you have remained determined to stick to your plan despite all the hassles of moving to a different continent. I had to vanquish Dutch Without Toil and Spanish Without Toil back to the netherworld called Melkor's basement. I am surprised that the embassy was not in the capital (Canberra), and even more surprised that the KSA embassy did not communicate its relocation to its stakeholders well in advance. I mean Sydney is only a stone throw's away from Melbourne at a mere 880 kms (using the M31). :roll:

I am quite surprised that your French would suffer from a reduction in time spent on it in such a short amount of time. I was under the impression that the consensus around these parts was that B2 was the panacea to TL language decay. I have invested too much time in my French to even allow the slightest sign of TL decline. I can imagine that it would be 10x worse for you as you have invested FIVE years. If something is asphyxiating your French and you cannot accept that, please terminate your foray into a second/third language immediately. French also has tremendous sentimental importance to you as a lingua franca between you and your children. It is also your language of vehement opposition to the tyranny of overreaching in-laws. ;)

I still believe that you are at the C1 level, even if you don't see it yourself. After my B2 in March, I am going to slow my French down and focus primarily on German. Lawyer&Mom has shown me that you can be very confident and fluent in both, even at the B2 level. Having a string of C-level; languages is great, but being at a solid B2 is also very impressive.

Arabic is very demanding for us (L1 English speakers), and I think that the language will eventually crowd out your other interests (Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian and German). Since it is much easier to get more return on your time investment in IE languages, you may end up dropping Arabic for something else. Since your career lies in Europe, Dutch and French look like wise investments.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:38 pm

Skynet wrote:It's great to hear from you, PM!

I am delighted to see that you have remained determined to stick to your plan despite all the hassles of moving to a different continent. I had to vanquish Dutch Without Toil and Spanish Without Toil back to the netherworld called Melkor's basement. I am surprised that the embassy was not in the capital (Canberra), and even more surprised that the KSA embassy did not communicate its relocation to its stakeholders well in advance. I mean Sydney is only a stone throw's away from Melbourne at a mere 880 kms (using the M31). :roll:

I am quite surprised that your French would suffer from a reduction in time spent on it in such a short amount of time. I was under the impression that the consensus around these parts was that B2 was the panacea to TL language decay. I have invested too much time in my French to even allow the slightest sign of TL decline. I can imagine that it would be 10x worse for you as you have invested FIVE years. If something is asphyxiating your French and you cannot accept that, please terminate your foray into a second/third language immediately. French also has tremendous sentimental importance to you as a lingua franca between you and your children. It is also your language of vehement opposition to the tyranny of overreaching in-laws. ;)

I still believe that you are at the C1 level, even if you don't see it yourself. After my B2 in March, I am going to slow my French down and focus primarily on German. Lawyer&Mom has shown me that you can be very confident and fluent in both, even at the B2 level. Having a string of C-level; languages is great, but being at a solid B2 is also very impressive.

Arabic is very demanding for us (L1 English speakers), and I think that the language will eventually crowd out your other interests (Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian and German). Since it is much easier to get more return on your time investment in IE languages, you may end up dropping Arabic for something else. Since your career lies in Europe, Dutch and French look like wise investments.


I think for some people my feelings of regret (of not spending enough time with French) may come as no surprise.

Thank you for your reply Skynet. It’s great to hear from you too! I’m sure it was hard to vanquish the Dutch and Spanish courses as you did. Still, you have an incredibly full schedule and do manage to take on two IEL, and advance at a hot pace, so it’s doable. But then, we are talking about me, the rediculous one ;)

I have only taken the news from my wife throughout the course of my busy days re: the Saudi consulate/embassy. Now I would dare say the embassy is probably indeed in Canberra. A quick google search would suffice to fill that gap in knowledge, but then again i’m busy typing. I believe it was the consulate that moved from Melb to Syd. Yes it’s a mere 10 minutes up the road. Same occurred with Dutch consulate btw. They moved a few years back from Melb to Syd and when it came time for me te renew my p’port, we had to fly to Sydney! But hey, Australia is only slightly bigger than NL, so Sydney’s not far at all from Melb!

Yes, the feelings of my French slipping are odd. Then again I wonder about my capacity to learn sometimes. It seems I must HAMMER things into my head over several sittings for them to stick! So, with just 30 min/day of French (of some sort) or perhaps 45min lately, it just feels wrong. It at least feels as though I’m not advancing.

Am I C1? Well I ought to be, but am I? I can watch a series dubbed in French and still struggle a lot. I can listen to a French Harry Potter audiol book and still miss a lot. I think I have over-estimated my progress. MInd you, in some areas, perhaps I handle myself without many issues. I think I have been stuck in course land too long. Perhaps, since my italki exam prep tutor (previous examinor) gave a good deal of positive feedback, I do indeed touch on C1... but NOT always and NOT in every skill.

You know the risks of course-land, Skynet, you have spoken of them before. Thus, your approach is sound - massive amounts of initial study using courses, aiming to transition to native content asap.

I culled my French course list this morning (yet again) from something approaching 50 to a little under twenty (18 in other words). That’s still a LOT. However, perhaps if I dropped the other languages and focused on French for a year, I could make a pretty decent dent in those 18 courses. Oh, poor Dutch, what and when will you get your chance to shine? When PM stops pissing around with courses!!

What’s the good of the 18 courses I hear some people say! Thing is, I recently noted that of the 28 courses I have completed, only ONE of them was of a slightly advanced level!!! (Assimil Using French). 27 were beginner courses!!! So the 18 contain much second and third tier material. With a little help from someone ;) I might be able to tweak that final 18 and perhaps march on in 2019 on a French course mission, ignorant of my Arabic suroundings, ignorant of the importance of Dutch (hoping we’ll stay in S.A. for a 2nd year in which Dutch will rise to the forefront) and well just be immersed in French in the desert!
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby trui » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:12 am

I still think that many people underestimate the CEFR levels, and that's okay. Then again, it's hard not to considering some of the tests based on the CEFR. I can't judge your French so I don't know if you are, but I wouldn't stress about it.

Studying Dutch in Leiden, I've taken 5 courses taught in Dutch this semester and I'll be taking 6 courses next semester. IIRC, the courses I'm taking at the moment specifically about improving one's Dutch intend to take your active skills to a B1/B2 level, and they're no joke! On the intake tests, I just barely passed the listening test and didn't score that high on the reading test. I think that means I'm B1/B2 when it comes to my passive skills, and I certainly need it for the lectures! That's why you have to pass said intake tests before being able to follow the second year courses.

Anyways, whether or not I'm B1 or B2 or whatever, my point is that you should be concerned more about your abilities than labels (though of course tests are useful for employment...) And if you are B2, then you can be certain that it's a super solid B2 :) That's how I view my level. I'm working on further solidifying my level. Any progress I make solidifies it even more. And I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of becoming a rock solid B2 than a rather shakey C1. :)

Dutch is nice, but getting your French to be rock solid would be even nicer, non? That's what I'm trying to do with my Dutch. But only you can decide what's best for you.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:43 am

trui wrote:I still think that many people underestimate the CEFR levels, and that's okay. Then again, it's hard not to considering some of the tests based on the CEFR. I can't judge your French so I don't know if you are, but I wouldn't stress about it.

Studying Dutch in Leiden, I've taken 5 courses taught in Dutch this semester and I'll be taking 6 courses next semester. IIRC, the courses I'm taking at the moment specifically about improving one's Dutch intend to take your active skills to a B1/B2 level, and they're no joke! On the intake tests, I just barely passed the listening test and didn't score that high on the reading test. I think that means I'm B1/B2 when it comes to my passive skills, and I certainly need it for the lectures! That's why you have to pass said intake tests before being able to follow the second year courses.

Anyways, whether or not I'm B1 or B2 or whatever, my point is that you should be concerned more about your abilities than labels (though of course tests are useful for employment...) And if you are B2, then you can be certain that it's a super solid B2 :) That's how I view my level. I'm working on further solidifying my level. Any progress I make solidifies it even more. And I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of becoming a rock solid B2 than a rather shakey C1. :)

Dutch is nice, but getting your French to be rock solid would be even nicer, non? That's what I'm trying to do with my Dutch. But only you can decide what's best for you.


Thanks trui, or should I say pull-over (or even 'pull')?

Anyway, jokes aside, I agree with everything you have to say. I've come to the realisation, my French definitely isn't where I want it to be (yet). I thought I was okay with that, but it seems I'm not.

However, given that I'll be in Saudi for one to two years (estimates, of course), and I'll be a stay-at-home dad, reading stories and communicating with my children, I wanted to take the opportunity to at least read to them in Dutch as well as French. Since after Saudi, we might go to belgium and there are more work opportunities it seems in the Flanders. It would be great if I could get the children up to some kind of a basic working level of the language, or basic understanding of it via reading, which I have done with French. In French, of course I speak to them in French as well, so it's a little different.

Anyway, were I to go full steam ahead with my French, the opportunity for introducing Dutch to the children is gone from the perspective of me being around them much more than usual. As I side note, I also lose the opportunity to learn Arabic.

Therefore, the situation requires a little more consideration as Dutch = introducing it to the children, increased chance of employment in Belgium.
Arabic = more connection with Saudi environment, but not necessarily anything substantial (who knows) as there is a lot of English spoken there.
French improvement = perhaps it could also increase my work opportunities as well, but to a smaller degree than opening up Flanders, since I'm already B2+ in French. It means my level potentially increases, it means my comfort with the language increases, it means my interactions with the children will become more complex, potentially as they grow (not that I'm only speaking to them like babies, no that's not the case). However, where does it end? What if in one year, I don't feel that much better in French? It probably won't be the case, but there's plenty to consider here.

Thanks again trui! Your adventure in NL sounds awesome! (i'm kinda envious, but happy for you!).
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby garyb » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:56 am

I agree that people underestimate C-levels and sometimes overestimate forum members' levels based on their post count and influence even though those members are typically very frank about their abilities and limitations. Happens to me too: people assume that since I post a lot about Italian I must be great at it. If you struggle with dubbed series and Harry Potter audiobooks you're not C1, simple as. Not a criticism at all, just a realistic assessment. Unfortunately I can't really advise you on how to get to that point because I've been "B2+" for years now. My comprehension must be in the Cs as I'm fine with most native media unless it's very slangy or literary, and I got there just from lots of practice and perhaps some talent, but my output's not there.

Anyway I can only encourage you to keep it up and find that balance between study and usage. Courses alone will never really teach you to understand native speech and TV, as much as they might help with certain weak points in understanding.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby tommus » Tue Jan 15, 2019 12:52 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:However, where does it end? What if in one year, I don't feel that much better in French? It probably won't be the case, but there's plenty to consider here.

My comments, for what they may be worth. It seems like any investment in Arabic would be of limited value, considering the limited opportunities to use it in an English speaking environment, and a short time, in Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, if a move to Belgium happens, the value of Dutch and French will be much greater, even essential. Assuming the possibility of helping your children to become trilingual after a few years in Belgium, that would be a big return on investment. I can even envision the possible irony of you teaching your children French and Dutch, and they go on to a French school and maybe Dutch-speaking friends, and become better in those languages than you. "He teacheth better than he knoweth!" What an accomplishment that would be. As for Belgium, not many places are so well positioned to support bilingualism in French and Dutch, especially in Brussels. Even better, Brussels is good for trilingualism (including English). Those possibilities would be great motivation for your own French and Dutch.
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Re: Pete Mollenburg's Adventures in the Matrix in French and Dutch

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:55 am

Thank you garyb and tommus for your comments, i’ve reflected on them...

garyb, you are right, I’m not C1. You are also right about courses not cutting it, however... (see further below)

tommus, you are right, my children would benefit substantially from Dutch, but... it’s going to have to wait.

I’ve decided to return to French only. And I’ll do it my way, which inevitably could see me hover in course land for far too long. However (lot’s of ‘however’s’), I’ll be hitting the study hard, à la Skynet style. I have cut my French course list from 49 to 21. It was 18, but I was counting all volumes of Cours de langue et civilisation françaises as one course instead of four (hence reaching 21).

If anyone remembers my ‘PM’s Big 5’ mission, which lasted a whole, well, very short while, this is bigger, but at least it’s not 49 courses. Disclaimer- I’ve also more ‘courses’ specifically for vocabulary acquisition, such as CLE Vocabulaire Progressif du Français, frequency dictionaries, illustrated dictionaries and the like, but such material is in my separate ‘vocabulary list (of books/courses/word lists etc)’ and I don’t care about their completion.

Here’s the final cut:
1. Practise Makes Perfect : Subjunctive (half way through)
2. Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises 1 (1/4 or 1/3 completed)
3. Assimil French Without Toil
4. Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises 2
5. Hugo French Advanced
6. CLE : Grammaire Progressive du Français (niveau intermédiaire)
7. French in Action (have completed 18 leçons)
8. Ultimate French Verb Review and Practise.
9. Colloquial French 2
10. Ultimate French Review and Practise
11. CLE : Grammaire Progressive du Français (niveau avancé)
12. Assimil Business French
13. FSI French Basic (have completed 11 units)
14. Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises 3
15. Le français des infirmiers (yet to purchase - thanks Arnaud for the suggestion a long time ago!)
16. CLE : Grammaire Progressive du Français (niveau perfectionnement)
17. Streetwise French
18. Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises 4
19. Production écrite : niveaux C1 / C2
20. Réussir le Dalf : niveaux C1 et C2
21. Dalf C1 : Tests complets corrigés

I foresee myself abandonning this, since that’s what my track record reveals, but i’ll fight every temptation to do so, and will aim to progress rapidly, much more so than before. I don’t want to dribble over content, I haven’t the luxury of time.

Strongly at the forefront of my mind will be fellow forum member Skynet and his super fast progress in French. Over 5 years of my on again off again course study saw me complete 28 courses. Skynet has completed as many courses and then some in under a tenth of the time all the while keeping up a social life, exercise and the study of TWO master’s. Incredible! I am not him, however, but I will certainly have him in mind. Apparently I have served as some inspiration to him at times (or is me ego making that up?), now it’s time for him to return the favour! ;)

Where’s the native content I hear you say? There’ll be some. Plenty of reading to my children. No, it’s not novels or literature reserved for those with an appreciation of literature, but it’s still going to help. There will be some watching/listening as well squeezed into my days. But for the most part, I MUST get through these courses if it’s the last thing I do, or i’ll never move on. That’s the thing, I can’t let go, they must be completed so I can then move on.

Dutch? Dropped!
Arabic? Ditto!

After the courses? all will be revealed in the next rediculous step in PM’s sooooo long French mission.

I was wrong, I do care about reaching C1/C2, I can’t move on without it.

I know people have had big concerns about my study methods at times, and for good reason, please don’t relinquish those concerns, but watch me plough through these bastard courses, and then move on! See you in 55 years! (on the other side? ;) )
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